The Isle of Iowa Parrot Head Club and the Linn County Blues Society traditionally hold their Annual Blues ‘n’ Buffett Chili Challenge in February. The Chili Challenge is a friendly competition between the two clubs to raise money for charity.
Proceeds from the event benefit the H.D. Youth Center and the Community Free Medical Clinic of Cedar Rapids. The Parrot Heads chose the Free Medical Clinic to help support costs for those who need medical assistance that is not affordable. LCBS chose H.D. Youth Center which provides a safe place to go as well as food to under-privileged youth. In 2017, the event raised almost $10,000 for these two fine organizations. Over $100,000 has been raised and donated to local charities in the 17 years of the event’s existence.
The public is invited to attend to taste the various chilis and vote in a variety of categories. Additional vote tickets for the People’s Choice award are available for 50 cents each. The club receiving the most votes will receive a plaque and their club’s charity will receive 51% of the proceeds from the event; the runner-up club 49% of the proceeds for their charity.
The contestants in the Chili Challenge are members of the two clubs, and each brings their own special chili and booth decorations to share. A number of local restaurants and organizations also participate There have been as many as 30 chilies for tasting. Celebrity Judges will be on hand to taste and vote on the Best Chili. The club receiving a majority of judge’s votes for the Best Chili receives a traveling trophy and bragging rights for their club. A Silent Auction is included in the fundraising activities, proceeds from which will be included in the donations to charities.